Chris Martin, Ketchum’s recently appointed director of public affairs, discusses his new role, the public affairs landscape and advice to those entering the industry.
Congratulations on the new role! What attracted you to Ketchum?
The opportunity to join Ketchum as one of the leading global agencies was of course appealing in itself, but the growth and ambition of the London business is what really stood out for me.
The consultancy’s client offering is evolving and is ever more integrated as part of the ‘One London’ approach, which is what clients want and where our industry is heading.
What does your new role encompass?
As director of public affairs, I’m part of the corporate reputation team which advises some of the world’s largest companies on their strategic communications needs. My role involves helping clients navigate the complexities of the UK Parliament and HM Government to ensure their interests are understood, protected and enhanced.
I work closely with colleagues who are specialists in media relations, digital communications, corporate affairs and crisis handling to ensure we offer the best strategic counsel for our clients’ needs.
Given the current global instability, is now a good or bad time to be working in public affairs?
This is a hugely interesting time to be working in public affairs. A combination of Brexit and a government without an overall majority has resulted in considerable uncertainty for business.
Clients need their public affairs advisers, perhaps more than ever, to provide insight and guidance on how to mitigate risk to their business. This is a great opportunity to clearly demonstrate the commercial value of public affairs and why it’s a business-critical discipline.
How does the convergence between public affairs and corporate communications affect your role?
There has been a convergence between public affairs and corporate communications over a number of years and this has been driven by client expectations. This means communications practitioners have to think beyond old boundaries to evolve their traditional areas of specialism and acquire new skills.
The Ketchum London team brings together professionals with a broad range of communications expertise, which means that we are able to learn from each other every day. And this seamlessly working together is what will ultimately benefit our clients.
How do you measure the output of your work?
Clearly defined deliverables that add value to a client’s objectives or business interests are a must on any piece of work.
Finally, what is your main piece of advice for people entering public affairs?
Take the time to get to know other people in the industry and build relationships for the long term. It’s a small industry and you’re going to work with many of the same people throughout your career, whether as a colleague, a client or a friend.
Your best new business opportunities and career moves will come through people you already know.